Changing Spousal Support Amounts - Divorce Attorney | Burns Law

Changing the Amount of Spousal Support

You May be Able to Change the Amount of Alimony you are Currently Receiving

If you’re going through a divorce and you and your ex-spouse have significantly different incomes, you will likely need to contact a legal professional. Alimony, or spousal support, is a recurring payment made to ensure that the lower-income spouse can maintain the same lifestyle post-divorce. These matters are settled in court, and a good spousal support adjustment lawyer in Los Angeles like those at the Law Offices of Nigel Burns will make sure you have a strong case. 

The outcome of the divorce judge’s decision is typically one of four: 

  • Temporary Spousal Support - This is a regular payment made by one spouse to another while the divorce is still being processed. Temporary spousal support lasts until the divorce is settled and permanent spousal support, if any, is granted. 
  • Permanent Spousal Support (also known as long-term support) - This amount is what people think of when they think of alimony. A lower-earning partner receives a monthly amount from the higher-earning partner so that they can maintain a lifestyle reasonably comparable to the standard of living that was established during the marriage. 
  • Rehabilitative Alimony - This is granted when one spouse had little to no income during the marriage. It gives them time to earn an education and/or find a job to give them a substantial income.
  • Reimbursement Alimony - This is the rarest kind of spousal support, and it’s not available in all states. This occurs when one spouse “reimburses” the other for paying for something significant, like a college degree.

Changing the Amount of Alimony

While you may not be satisfied with the amount of alimony determined during your divorce, its possible the change the payment amount in the future, even if it’s permanent spousal support.

During the court hearing for the initial alimony, your lawyer needs to ensure that there’s a clause stating that the alimony amount can be changed in the future. The judge will decide under what circumstances the alimony after divorce can be modified, so make sure to check your divorce agreement if you decide to go about changing the agreed-upon amount. Your agreement can also state that alimony changes can only be made under certain circumstances. A few examples are listed below:  

  • If both ex-spouses agree to change the alimony amount
  • If either spouse’s income significantly changes
  • If one spouse becomes disabled and cannot work
  • If either spouse experiences a cost of living increase

There are also several clauses that can be inserted into your alimony agreement that will adjust the amount paid automatically. A Cost of Living Adjustment means that the amount of spousal support will increase at a rate comparable to the area’s annual cost of living. An Escalator Clause will give the recipient of alimony an automatic increase in payment amount following a raise or promotion at the ex-spouse’s job.

Even if you do not have a monetary alteration clause in your agreement, it’s not unusual for courts to grant a temporary change in alimony due to temporary hardship. For example, if you are laid off, it’s possible to lower alimony payments until you can find another job. 

Alimony Changes in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Another round of stay-at-home orders was announced in various states to combat a second wave of COVID-19. This means that more non-essential businesses will be laying off staff or even closing altogether. As cases surge, it’s also possible that you may come down with COVID-19 and be unable to work. If COVID-19 affects your income and your ex won't agree to a temporary reduction, then you'll need to search for lawyers for alimony in Los Angeles for help. 

Luckily, a California Judicial Council passed emergency rule #13, making it easier to temporarily adjust child or spousal support payments. Courts have been flooded with public health related cases, so it’s been taking them longer to get to less pressing matters like divorce and marriage. Under the new emergency rule #13, alimony payments can be backdated so start the date the request for adjustment was mailed, instead of starting on the day the court processes the request. 

If your ex-spouse has refused to talk about changing the spousal support amount or refuses to adjust the amount, you should contact an attorney for postmarital negotiations. This will ensure that your case will be heard by a neutral third party in court. As the economy of 2020 affects many Americans, you are not the only one trying to adjust the spousal support paid each month. The Law Offices of Nigel Burns consists of aggressive lawyers for fair financial support in Los Angeles that will make a case for why your alimony payments need to be changed. 

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